As a former high school English and social studies teacher who is transitioning to becoming a middle grades math teacher, I read this article with interest. I skimmed the workbook with interest as well. While the framework of antiracism that the workbook espouses is both pointless and insidious, many of the pedagogical moves that it encourages are good practices.

Centering math education on cognitively demanding engaging tasks, sense making, authentic collaborative problem solving, and multiple ways of approaching a problem is not tantamount to a lack of precision or rigor. Quite the opposite. In a classroom where these practices flourish, students constantly have to defend and justify their reasoning rather than regurgitating algorithmic procedures or aping the teacher. Students learn that the logic of the underling math is the ultimate authority. They can't fake it. They have to engage in real productive struggle with difficult problems. There's nothing wishy washy about it any of this, at least when done well.

A final point of emphasis is that teaching math in this way really doesn't have anything to do with a racist or antiracist approach. The workbook seems to be heavily informed by this document:


which conflate a long list of what I think are largely unhelpful cultural norms that permeate lots of organizations (including schools) with white supremacy culture (whatever that is).

It is possible, and I would even say desirable, to draw wisdom and inspiration from critiques of common cultural norms such as these, without believing that they are manifestations of white supremacy. Of course, not everybody will agree on what is wise, in these critiques, but to throw out all of the baby with the bathwater is a mistake.

Those who have more interest in what the way of teaching math I describe entails can check out Peter Liljedahl's book Building Thinking Classrooms and Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret Smith and Mary K. Stein. Other excellent practices in this vein include number talks and open middle problems.

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This has to be a scam perpetrated by White Supremacists for the purpose of keeping Black people down and voting Democrat forever. No, what a minute, that was LBJ’s line.

I don’t understand how one sentient person, black, white or lime green can sign onto this atrocity.

Keep at it, Dr. McWhorter; there is a pressing need.

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The people proposing this nonsense can feel morally superior for having proved they are antiracist, all the while being free from suffering the consequences. There are already too many black children in this country who have been and are being poorly educated. In the Bronx where I was born and raised the numbers of black high school graduates who are functionally illiterate is horrifying. I have a cousin who was socially promoted through elementary and middle school, and no one noticed until he got to the 9th grade he could barely read and do basic arithmetic. He's in his 30's now, with no HS diploma, could never past the GED, and cannot hold a job. I could write a 500 page novel about all the people of my generation and our children's generation from my old neighborhood like this.

These kids are leaving school without basic math and English skills and with no other marketable skills. They cannot handle college level work without extensive remedial classes, and they are only employable in low skill or unskilled jobs, which pay low wages and have few if any opportunities for advancement. Now these social justice warriors have decided to turn low expectations and certain failure into a real curriculum. And when these kids finish school and cannot compete in the real world, they will continue blaming racism and white supremacy. The work force is already fiercely competitive. Who is going to hire workers who have not mastered basic concepts? What bank is going to give business loans to entrepreneurs who can't calculate potential profits and loses to demonstrate the value of their endeavor?

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Instead of having "answers" on a math test, they should just call them "impressions," and if you got a different "impression," so what, can't we all be brothers? - Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts (1992)

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I just listened to your podcast with Glenn L, in which you talked about "anti-racist math." You asked a question that I'd like to take a stab at, namely, what institutions have been infiltrated by the violent right wing?

I was thinking about an episode of Democracy Now from August 2017, right after Charlottesville, with Christian Picciolini, a former white supremacist. It's worth listening to the whole episode, but here's a bit of the transcript:

"The FBI published a report recently that showed that there is a massive amount of [white supremacist] recruiting happening within the military and within law enforcement. And, in fact, it was a concerted strategy of ours 30 years ago, when I was involved in the movement, when we recognized that the shaved heads and the swastika flags and the Klan hoods were turning away the average American white racist that we could recruit, but they were too afraid to join because, you know, of how edgy we were. So we decided at that point, 30 years ago, that we were not going to shave our heads. We were going to trade in our boots for suits. We were going to go enroll in college and recruit on campuses. We would get jobs in law enforcement, go into the military to get training and to be able to recruit there, and then even run for office. And here we are 30 years later with that dream—or that nightmare—realized. Now, you know, they’re wearing polos and khakis, and they blend in. They look like our doctors, our mechanics, our teachers, our nurses. And it’s hard to distinguish them, aside from the words that they say and the actions that they take, which oftentimes, in public, when they’re alone, they won’t do."

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My assessment Is that the math is racist movement is one more example of how blacks (and their white progressive allies) have internalized the belief that Black Americans (most Africans would see this as ridiculous) and Latinos are simply inferior to whites. As such, blacks and (Latinos) can never really compete with superior white Europeans. Having internalized racial inferiority blacks and their allies must overthrow the game. They want to kick the table over and complain the game is not fair so let’s play a game where I don’t have to compete and win to feel good about myself. One could argue this is an exercise in collective self esteem building. Oh it is not that you have failed to understand but that you are being asked to perform tasks that are contrary to your essential nature—as such this is unfair in fact it is racist to require me to countermand my basic nature to participate in the game as devised. The solution Cultural Revolution.

The irony is that the white elite allies that support these notions of internalized inferiority have the power to dole out benefits without disturbing their existing privileges. As such they can and do reward these proponents of internalized black inferiority by giving them paid platforms to expound on their embrace of the idea that blacks can’t do math because black essential nature is different and better than whites—this essential nature does not include logic, analysis, merit performance, and seeking the right answers. This emphasis on the idea that say math, or other subjects are racist also obviates the responsibility of the elites who run all our major institutions, but especially those in or associated with education, to answer why do they consistently fail to teach black and Latino children to perform as well as their white peers? There were no failures, blacks simply are not equipped to learn Euro-centric math, science, language arts, etc. Blacks will perform well when we only ask them to perform black (or BIPOC) centric mathematics. This of course will have a cascade effect—there will be fewer top performing black doctors, engineers, scientists and mathematicians. This disparity will be addressed by the CRT advocates by asking for preferences and quotas that are aimed at creating equity between the races—I.e.something that resembles equal outcomes based on population shares.

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Im afraid that too many commenters are missing the point of this god-forsaken document. It's indiousness lies in the way they sprinkle things we would all agree with to push their all-things-white-people-do-is-bad. The real-world math sections comes to mind. But thats not to the point. The point is to push their ideology of collectivism, anti-individualism, capitalism is white supremacy bull shit. This whole document needs to be tossed out. Its creators shun. For what will really be applied is not these teaching techniques that we all can agree are just good ideas. But, their ethnomath, mathematx. They will require you to do a PHD on ethnic specific "maths" from obscured places around the world. Have fun creating your lesson plans on thinking about how to include Black, Latinx, and Multilingual students into your 5th grade math classes.

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The document is also a bit, well, white-centered itself. Teach how the Yoruba people used base 20? the implication being that base 10 is somehow a white-man thing? They're called "Arabic numerals" for a reason, folks.

Some of the methods in the document are at least plausibly good ideas - and others have said here that they have been tested.

The connection to white supremacy in this document is expressed by a repeating "White supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms when..." title which is followed by, well, *everything*.

And if you equate "white supremacy" with "racism" - which makes sense to me - then, yes - quite everything is racist.

This every-normal-thing-in-the-classroom-is-white-supermacy attitude, I can't imagine teaching anything like this.

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I think the larger problem with that document and with Professor McWhorter's response is that they both frame the debate around pedagogy. I know others have written similar comments below, so I'll repeat briefly that the teaching strategies in that document aren't actually bad. They just have nothing to do with anti-racism. That document is actually full of tried and tested teaching methods; most teaching methods are. If we really want to boost math achievement, we should focus on lowering class sizes and getting better resources into classrooms. I'd love to do more projects, and spend more one-on-one time with my students, and write fun new word problems, and get rid of multiple choice tests... but that isn't going to happen with 35 students per class and a poor selection of resources.

I know Professor McWhorter is on a mission to debunk bad logic posing as anti-racism, and he does a great job of that. But as a high school math teacher, I get defensive when debates about education are framed around just what the teacher should do differently.

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While higher level and abstract concepts within math and science as disciplines evolve over time (ie. post grad), the basics don't. Side-stepping/excusing/obfuscating the need for the mastery of these basic concepts (and indeed the universal language of math); is essentially the same as statements similar to being injected bleach will cure COVID. There are some things that are just true, period. Assaults on math and science, under the guise of "social justice" does absolutely nothing to address inequities in education. In addition, it is also "paternalistic" (and that is not the term I would use personally) in assuming kids are not smart enough to learn these concepts because they are intellectually fragile. This is all anathema to any society that is comprised of people who can actually think, have conversations, critically think and have reasonable debates. Understanding the "basics" of anything is the foundation of that agreed upon social compact. So, whats next? Learning to drive isn't subject to interpretation, neither is cooking food, or following generally accepted social mores.

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I skimmed over the guide and I actually think some of the pedagogical ideas make sense to a degree. Focusing solely on one right answer can make math boring. E.g. "what is the area of this rectangle?" is a pretty simple and boring question, but we could make it more interesting by asking other things, like "how would you shape this rectangle if you want to maximize the perimeter? What if you want to maximize the area instead?" Now you have to think a little bit and you're not just repeating a dull procedure. So I can see how certain changes like this could get more kids interested in math and make the material more meaningful, and this could in principle be done without dumbing down the curriculum. It's not clear how this is related to racism, though.

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Why does it seem likely that the Teachers’ Union is behind this, to explain away the system’s failure to educate so many Black kids? Because the Union is all about “don’t check my work”

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If anything requires either/or thinking it is arithmetic, which is the behavior of numbers in specific instances, rather then mathematics, which is the behavior of numbers in general. 5+3 will always equal 8, never different, but A+B=C can be used for many combinations of numbers. We learn the arithmetic so that we can later do math. Adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, fractions and decimals are all arithmetic, and one could argue that in the age of calculators and computers they are not as important as algebra or calculus. But I would return a calculator that told me 5+3=9. And I wouldn't drive over a bridge whose designing engineer thought 5+3=9.

My eight year old grandson, who can do arithmetic in his head, would love not to have to show his work.

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"And in this country, religious propositions have no place in the public square."

I agree heartedly with the sentiments of this article, assuming that the "public square" refers to government funded activities or programs, which all "public" education is. I do think religious propositions have a place on public street corners, or even the quads of public universities, but I gather that is not what is meant by your statement given the rest of your article.

I wonder: how many people who see that the Church of the Awoken has made a religious perversion of race and that their conceptions have the logical coherency of the Trinity or Transubstantiation, also see that the Church has made a religious perversion of sex as well?

Is not the notion that a man can be a woman, or a woman a man, by simply saying so no less a fantastical creed? Mathematics is racist, they say; biology is sexist, they say as well. Are we to allow the state to force people to affirm a man is a she and a woman is a he, not because we may be kindly sympathetic to the wishes of others, or even convinced of the scientific argument, but because we fear punishment? When a biological male says he is a woman because he simply "feels like a woman", and a biological female says she is a man simply because she "feels like a man", these are professions of faith, not descriptions of an objective reality. Thus, for the state to require by law that citizens affirm such professions would be a violation of the letter and spirit of the first amendment. We may be so kind as to tolerate a person's faith, or even show voluntary respect, but we should not be forced to affirm it. Such mental enslavement has no place in America.

There are now some atheists and agnostics who scoff at the absurdity of the virgin birth but viciously attempt to destroy the livelihoods of people who do not believe that a man, by believing he is a woman, becomes a woman. They want to take America into NeverNever Land and they will destroy anyone who doesn't want to help bring it there. There are people who would be horrified if the state required citizens to affirm that Jesus is a god, but think it virtuous if the state were to require citizens to affirm that a man is a woman simply because a man declares it so, like Jehovah calling into being the Heavens. "And Adam saith, let me be a woman, and Adam becameth Eve, a woman."

Race is unfortunately not the only theological concern of the Church. I think transgender people should be judged by their character, and should receive the same protections under the law as black people or asian people. But did you all notice? People do not have the right to change their race at will. If you are white, and you inject yourself with black ink, you will not become black. And the Church of Awoken will not permit voluntary race-changing. On the other hand, some in the Church think, like Biden, that if a black person rejects the Democratic Party, aka the Party of Slavery, that they will become white. So race changing can occur, but only through actions they imbue with moral significance, as a sort of moral corruption. For example, some in the Church think black people and brown people became white if they voted for Trump.

Because seriously, what black person wouldn't vote for the Party of Slavery that never has acknowledged its history or restored the reparations they plundered from black people after the civil war? Why wouldn't we vote for a candidate that is an advocate and spiritual vessel of the Church of the Awoken? They think a black person must hate black people if we aren't a Democrat. The Democratic Party has been the party for black people ever since they put lots of black people in public housing and attacked the foundation of their families and then spearheaded laws that criminalized drugs that put black people disproportionately in jail for them. Nevermind the KKK, and the Black Laws, or the Civil War; the Democrats have changed. Now they love black people so much they want to change the nature of Mathematics for us so we can finally compete with asians who statistically dominate STEM with their embrace of White stuff like logic and studying. Black STEM will have no logic and certainly require no studying, just lived experience, and basketball, because black people can excel at that.

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It seems as if the only way to get enough serious pushback to CRT nonsense is if more John McWhorters speak out. Not sure how many more - enough to get the MSM to stop being afraid of being labeled racist and show some courage when dealing with facts and ideas.

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I encourage everyone to download this document and read it. I printed all 82 pages. It is truly precious. It reads as if it were written by the staff at The Onion. I may have it bound.

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